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Creating and maintaining a commercially viable executive coaching practice in South Africa

N Terblanche, R Jock, M Ungerer The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management 2019

Background: The executive coaching industry is growing internationally and in South Africa. As is typical of small businesses, many struggle to survive. Factors contributing to small business success have been researched, but research in the context of the executive coaching industry in South Africa is sparse. Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the factors that contribute to creating and maintaining a commercially viable executive coaching practice by examining executive coaching businesses through the lens of a standard business model template consisting of value network, value architecture, value proposition and value finance dimensions. Method: A qualitative methodology was followed to gather data from executive coaches in South Africa. Data from two focus groups (eight participants) and four semi-structured interviews were analysed using deductive content analysis to ascertain the nature of executive coaching practices in terms of a standard business model template. Results: The most significant factors contributing to a successful executive coaching business include forming alliances, leveraging previous experience, employing multiple income streams and evolving as business owner. Significant factors that present challenges include the lack of a business strategy, finding clients and underestimating earnings potential. These findings could assist aspiring and established executive coaches to plan and structure their coaching business. Executive coach training providers could incorporate these findings into their curricula to prepare new coaches for the realities of running a coaching business. Conclusion: Empirical evidence of factors that contribute to successful executive coaching businesses may help guide coaches to a more realistic view of the profession, in the process contributing to the maturing of the growing executive coaching industry in South Africa.

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